Major League Soccer announced Saturday that the league will continue its regular season in home markets after the conclusion of the MLS is Back Tournament. The league's one-location tournament will wrap up on Tuesday following more than a month in Orlando. MLS will start playing games outside of its Orlando bubble next week, on Wednesday, Aug. 12.
MLS announced the first phase of the rest of the 2020 season, which will include comprehensive health and safety protocols, including regular testing of players, coaches and essential staff for COVID-19. As teams return to their home markets, each club will play 18 additional regular season games in a phased approach, culminating with Decision Day on Sunday, Nov. 8.
The league also announced that FC Dallas and Nashville SC will play an additional three matches starting Aug. 12 and 16, with a third matchup scheduled in the fall to make up for the three games the clubs missed during the tournament. Both teams were held out of the MLS is Back Tournament due to positive COVID-19 tests. The rest of the league will begin playing in home markets later in the month.
MLS noted that a "majority of the matches" will be played without fans in attendance. However, the league noted "MLS and club leadership are working with local health authorities and government officials on a plan for limited capacity at certain games where allowed."
Due to travel restrictions between the U.S. and Canada, MLS announced the initial phase of the league's revised schedule with each U.S. club playing six matches against other U.S. teams by Sept. 14. More details on schedules for the league's three Canadian teams will be announced in the near future as plans are still developing.
MLS says success in COVID-19 protocols during the MLS is Back tournament have provided a blue print to move forward with the regular season, and the league will continue to work closely with the league's infectious disease advisors as well as advisors for the MLSPA on the plan for testing.
"I would like to thank everyone involved with the MLS is Back Tournament -- players, coaches, staff and partners -- for their role in helping us recapture the momentum we had at the beginning of our 25th season and reconnect with our passionate fans," said MLS Commissioner Don Garber. "Since suspending play in March, we have been working on plans to play as much of our season as possible, beginning with the tournament in Florida and resuming in our local markets following the competition. We remain focused on the health and safety of our players, coaches and staff, and look forward to continuing our season in our home markets."
In an expansion of the postseason for 2020, 18 clubs will compete in the MLS Cup Playoffs -- up from 14 teams last year. The 2020 MLS Cup will be played on Dec. 12.